Thursday, June 26, 2014

Naming the birds

Linnaeus apparently trumps internet popularity measures. I needed some easy visual depictions of bird taxonomy and suddenly found that things I had known to work no longer did. ManyEyes told me that my browser had an outdated Java VM. Updating it led to an error claiming that my security settings were too stringent (the dataset exists). Then I found Tableau Public

For the data, I went to the IOC worldbird names list (4.2) and downloaded the XLS file. I deleted the blank lines, the genus lines and retained only the subspecies for polytypic forms and the main species line for those that were monotypic. I then took the author column, removed the brackets, split it so that the year went to another field and then I was able to quickly produce a few visuals. Note however that this depicts the authors of the names and that usually refers to the descriptions of the species. The exceptions are when names are revived or when replacement names are used.

An interactive version (updated 9 July 2014)


Here are a few snapshots that look interesting. Remember that this is species/subspecies (genus descriptions are not included).

The biggest bird namers


The big bird namers by decade


The big namers in the biggest decades using a treemap

If species distributions are included, it might make for some more interesting views. It would likely show how the dominant contributions move from Asia to Africa and then to the New World tropics.

PS: There is definitely a login related problem on Tableau Public. It works intermittently so success perhaps depends on the load on the web-server.

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